Jaguar Land Rover develops 'sensory steering wheel'

The tech is intended to reduce driver distraction.

Jaguar Land Rover, in partnership with Glasgow University, has developed a new 'sensory steering wheel' intended to reduce driver distraction by using rapid heating and cooling of a vehicle's steering wheel to indicate turn-by-turn directions and possible road dangers.

The sensory steering wheel looks like any other steering wheel, but features embedded rapid heating and cooling elements on both sides. When used in conjunction with the vehicle's navigation system, the wheel will gradually get hotter on the side of the next turn.

JLR says the sensory wheel can also warn a driver of possible road dangerous, such as approaching junctions and roads with poor visibility. The tech can also be useful for signaling when it's safe to make a lane change or when a vehicle is running low on fuel.

JLR research shows that thermal cues can be less distracting to drivers than audio- or vibration-based warning systems.

"Research has shown people readily understand the heating and cooling dynamics to denote directions and the subtlety of temperature change can be perfect for certain feedback that doesn't require a more intrusive audio or vibration-based cue,” said Alexandros Mouzakitis, Jaguar Land Rover Electrical Research Senior Manager.

JLR hasn't announced any plans to put the sensory steering wheel into a production vehicle.

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